One frequent question that we’re asked is, “What flooring works best in a beach home?” The most definitive answer is that carpet, while fine for bedrooms, is not recommended for high traffic common areas in a coastal home. The good news is that there are a variety of quality products on the market that work very well in our seaside environment.

Certainly every Outer Banks contractor has an opinion on what works the best. Given my experience, the products that top our recommended list include prefinished hardwoods, ceramic and porcelain tiles and luxury vinyl flooring. The majority of our clients request hardwood flooring for their great room and hallways, and we’ve found prefinished wood is a great product that comes in a variety of appealing wood species.

This is solid wood flooring that has multiple coats of factory applied finish to protect against discoloration and water penetration. The quality has improved greatly in the last decade, and a part of this improvement is attributed to the newest finish called Aluminum Oxide. This finish is applied by a commercial process that includes a UV-cured urethane coat that’s great for color preservation and durability against stains and scratches.

Because the wood is factory finished the installation process is more efficient. There is no job site dust from sanding and no lingering odors from onsite staining. An added bonus is you can walk on the floors immediately whereas unfinished wood takes several days for the applied stain to cure. If you factor in the material price for unfinished wood and add the labor cost to sand and stain floors, prefinished floors price out as a better value.

Our preference is prefinished hardwood flooring that is ¾” thick. When and if the time comes, this thickness can be professionally refinished up to 3-4 times. Wider hardwood planks can be more susceptible to moisture-related issues. To minimize this potential, the widest plank we typically use measures between 4 and 4-1/2 inches. We also encourage homeowners to have ceramic tile placed in the entrance foyer and in front of sliding glass doors to lessen the potential of moisture permeating hardwood.

Whereas hardwood can be extended into bedrooms, a more budget friendly option is to install carpet in these rooms. We recommend a low piling in a neutral color that won’t easily show sand that can be tracked indoors. Ceramic tile is another functional and low maintenance flooring option for a beach home. This durable product is often earmarked for kitchens, bathrooms and utility rooms.

The majority of Outer Banks’s recreation rooms are located on the ground level slab with doors that lead to the outdoors. For this reason, ceramic tile is a dependable solution for the traffic that flows in and out from the pool area. Another flooring option for rec rooms is high quality luxury vinyl which is durable, tolerant of moisture and can be more economical than ceramic tile.